Habitat First Group has this week submitted a planning application to North Devon District Council to transform Venn Quarry, south east of Barnstaple, into a major new holiday retreat, based on ecological principles.

The Landmark Practice worked with the design team of Savills, Wilmore Iles Architects, Biodiversity by Design, Peter Brett Associates, Cotswolds Archaeology, i – Transport and Dominic Houston Economic Consultants to prepare the planning application, leading on the illustrative masterplan, EIA parameter plans, LVIA and associated photomontages.

The scheme

Mineral extraction at Venn Quarry ceased operation in 2006 and the site is in the process of being restored by the operator. The Birchwood Lakes scheme, which covers 63 hectares, includes a 40 bedroom family hotel, spa, restaurant and country club as well as around 150 high quality holiday cabins and lodges, and outdoor leisure facilities. The planning application also includes a new publically accessible nature reserve, with public footpaths, a heritage trail and shelters, as well as areas for wildlife watching, all within easy reach of the famous Tarka Trail footpath and cycleway network.

As well as providing a huge boost to tourism in the area, the scheme offers major economic benefits to the area, with the creation of 30 construction and 77 operational jobs, and a year round expenditure in the local economy of about £3.9 million.


Birchwood Lakes – Landmark’s Illustrative Masterplan

Birchwood Lakes builds upon HFGs considerable experience, in the Cotswolds and Dorset, of creating environmentally sustainable holiday destinations set within sensitively managed environments designed to enhance nature conservation.  The application scheme includes measures to provide long term landscape and ecological protection and enhancement, managed through a landscape and nature conservation framework, integrated with high quality and sustainable holiday accommodation in a natural environment.  It incorporates extensive sustainability features, such as renewable energy, highly insulated modular construction, rainwater harvesting and reuse of grey water.  Broad areas of wet woodland are included and will reduce nitrate runoff and reduce flow rates into Venn Stream.


Visualisation of the hotel and spa at the heart of the development, designed by Wilmore Iles Architects


North Devon Biosphere Reserve

The application site is within the area designated by UNESCO as the North Devon Biosphere Reserve.  As such, a biodiversity metrics analysis of the potential effect of the development on the Biosphere Reserve was required to inform the planning application.  This tested whether the landscape and biodiversity strategy proposed for the site was equal to, if not better than, the mineral operator’s quarry restoration plan.  Landmark helped colleagues at Biodiversity by Design to review habitat change, connectivity and ecosystem services, and the analysis confirmed that significant benefits would be generated by the proposed scheme.    photomontage

Landmark’s ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Photomontage from Codden Hill